Groups hold rallies to mark Easter Rising

The anniversary of the Easter Rising saw commemorations from many different republican groupings at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast.

They were part of over a hundred such commemorations around Ireland to mark the day the Republic was declared at the GPO in Dublin in 1916.

Sinn Féin's Euro candidate for the Six Counties, Bairbre de Brun, told the largest gathering that the peace process ``presents great challenges for all but also great opportunities.

``That is why republicans continue to negotiate with the two governments. That is why republicans have on occasions taken initiatives to save this process and advance our agenda of change.

``Republicans have again and again faced up to the challenge of peace building and national reconciliation. Others must do the same.''

Addressing the issue of collusion Ms de Brun asked: ``What hope can there be for truth when the state responsible for the policy of collusion is also responsible for setting the terms of reference, structure and membership of any inquiry?

She pointed to a number of examples of the efforts being made by those within the British state who she said, were determined to prevent the facts from emerging.

``Nor should we forget that the apparatus of collusion still exists and that collusion remains part of British state policy in Ireland. If the British government cannot accept that collusion has happened and does happen, how can we be confident that it will end?''

On Sunday, Republican Sinn Féin condemned the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, with spokesman Fergal Moore describing Stormont as a `failed sectarian institution'.

The most vulnerable republicans are those in prison, he added.

However, last year's segregation of loyalist and republican inmates in Maghaberry was a `partial victory', though he added that remand prisoners were being sent to jails in Britain.

Meanwhile, the Irish Republican Socialist Party said its anti-agreement stance had been validated.

`Six years on from the Good Friday Agreement British soldiers are on the streets, the British intelligence services continue to cover up past killings, street clashes continue, loyalists continue to target Catholics and justice is denied,' Gerry Ruddy said.

The tactics of republicanism have had to change with the times, he said.

`We have embarked on a process of politicisation both internally and externally to encourage people to take res- ponsibility for their own community.'

The 32-County Sovereignty Movement held its main commemoration in Dublin where chairman Francie Mackey gave an oration.

He said that criminalising republicans served no purpose and praised those killed in the 1916 Rising.

`As we leave here today from the graveside of these men let us make the extra effort necessary to strengthen our challenge and to bring to fruition the vision and ideology of the men and women we have commemorated here this afternoon,' he told supporters at Arbour Hill.

The Workers' Party assembled in Milltown Cemetery on Monday, where Tom French said society was in a ``state of political paralysis''.

Mr French said the extremes of unionism and nationalism were incapable of ``stepping outside of the sectarian cul de sac which they have created''.

He said the two opposing factions had ``squandered the opportunities for a new beginning''.

``Neither is interested in the political compromises which are necessary in order to bring about a peaceful and democratic society in Northern Ireland as envisaged by the Good Friday Agreement,'' Mr French said.

Meanwhile, those who gathered for an Official Republican Movement (ORM) commemoration at Milltown Cemetery were told that ``cross-community peace building, counter sectarian activities and the promotion of active and responsible citizenship'' were of vital importance in striving to underpin a ``new and open political arena''.

In relation to the recent upsurge in racially-motivated attacks, ORM speaker Harry Donaghy said that political parties in both parts of Ireland had ``shown that either they are incapable of or unwilling to even begin to tackle the growing and horrendous spectre of racism on this island''.

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© 2003 Irish Republican News